Findlay Brown sees no reason to rush things. It is a timely reminder when artists with an eye on commercial fortunes jostle for position in the autumn release schedules. Surely music is an art form worthy of greater spontaneity rather than exploitation of the public at the expense of quality?
Certainly more people could take a leaf from Brown’s book. Slow Light, its title perhaps indicative of a longer gestation period, is his third album in eight years, following the contrasting previous records Separated By The Sea and Love Will Find You. For Slow Light Brown arrives at a third record label, Dead People’s Choice. This may be an indication of a restless spirit, although he has been settled in New York for two years since relocating from Yorkshire.
Despite the relocation, Slow Light is recognisably English, and after a few listens it begins to reveal its treasures. Initially it would be easy to dismiss Brown as a derivative voice, with some fairly pronounced influences old and new – Tim Hardin and Ennio Morricone to name two subtle creative spirits at work – but here his development and maturity as a songwriter gathers pace, suggesting he has been listening to a lot of music in the interim but that he continues to write from personal experience.
Brown’s strength is his ability to channel emotion through his voice, a quality strangely underrated in a lot of the sterile pop we hear today. He helps himself too by often stripping back the accompaniment to simply voice and guitar, meaning the words are easier to hear and relate to. And yet there are times when the production becomes denser, such as the gorgeous instrumental Emeralds that effectively divides the album in half.
This works as a brief cameo between parts one and two, a kind of upbeat to the deeply felt All Is Love, which uses a small choir to good effect. From the start, Brown is thinking deeply however. “I’ve been looking at my reflection,” he muses in Run Home, while the accompanying music, wistful though positive, suggests he is largely at peace with what he sees. In fact it often feels as though Brown is singing outdoors.
The “Get up, get up, run” call of Ride Into The Sun is more restless, adding urgency and implying pressing matters are at hand. It is the fastest song on the album, an effective call to arms. Born Of The Stars returns to deeper seated contentment, though, Brown declaring himself “bright as the morning, wide as the sea”.
This is a lovely early morning or late night record, the sort to bring in the new day with a ray of sunshine, for Brown sings with a positive tone and manages to avoid sounding like everyone else. He exhibits softly voiced charm but also has an emotional edge that continues to get sharper with each album.